The White House on Wednesday issued a sharp veto threat of a bill tailored to avoid Pentagon budget cuts slated to take effect in January.
The veto threat came in a state of administration policy that stated White House officials believe the bill “fails the test of fairness and shared responsibility.”
The legislation, called the National Security and Job Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., who stringently opposes new defense cuts. West’s bill would slash $19 billion from discretionary spending accounts, and also contains language that would force the president to replace billions in cuts to planned Pentagon spending set to take effect Jan. 2.
West’s legislation, not expected to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate if the lower chamber passes it, does not cover the entire $1.2 trillion in automatic federal spending cuts that would kick in in January should lawmakers fail to pass a debt-reduction bill with that same amount of cuts.
As Pentagon officials have warned, the automatic cuts would be made through a process called sequester, which would simply take a certain percentage from all non-exempt federal accounts. Shy of strategy, the cuts could cause job losses and hinder national security, the officials have warned.
Specifically, the White House objects to “destructive cuts in investments critical to the nation’s economic future, ranging from education to research and develop infrastructure.” Spending on infrastructure enhancement programs has been a theme of President Obama’s re-election campaign.
The veto threat statement also panned the bill for cuts it would allow to mandatory domestic programs like Medicare, which are favored by Democrats like Obama and viewed skeptically by conservatives like West.
The White House’s statement also hits on several issues that have been at the forefront of the 2012 presidential election.
The Obama administration opposes the bill because it would slash federal discretionary spending below levels agreed to last summer by congressional leaders of both parties and the White House.
The White House would prefer a bill that raises new federal revenues “by asking the most fortunate Americans to pay their fair share.” To help pare the federal debt, Obama wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans; GOP nominee Mitt Romney, on the other hand, opposes all tax increases.
The West-sponsored bill could hit the House floor as early as Thursday.